Excess baggageWe recently ran a copywriting workshop for Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, to help their managers write more effective reports.

Like a lot of the copywriting workshops we do, as professional business copywriters we focus a lot on being as clear and concise as you can in order to communicate your messages effectively.

One thing that never ceases to strike a chord as a really easy way to sharpen up your copywriting is redundant phrases. You know, little words and phrases that we all use through habit and custom, but which on closer inspection are totally unnecessary and just clog up your copywriting rather than adding meaning.

So, here is our list of the top 20 redundant copywriting phrases. Chances are, you can cut these out of your copywriting and no-one will even notice they’re gone – but your writing (and your messaging) will be that bit sharper.

  1. As and when – in this context, both mean the same thing. So just use ‘as’ or ‘when’, not both.
  2. Over and above – again, you’re just using two words to say the same thing. Just choose one and reduce the word count by 33%.
  3. Advance warning – a warning, by definition, is in advance. What good would a warning be that occurred after the event?
  4. During the course of – ‘during’ means ‘in the course of…’ so no need to double up. ‘During’ on its own is fine.
  5. For a period of [x] days – why not just say ‘For [x] days…’?
  6. In close proximity – the word proximity already means ‘close by,’ so you don’t need to add the word ‘close’.
  7. Collaborate together – this one comes up a lot in business-speak, but collaborate already means ‘to work together’. The word ‘together’ is redundant.
  8. New innovation – think about it, if an innovation wasn’t new, it wouldn’t be an innovation.
  9. Up to a maximum – up to = maximum, using both and you’re just repeating yourself.
  10. Harmful injuries – ever had an injury that wasn’t harmful?
  11. In respect of – normally you can just say ‘for’ instead, and use 66% fewer words in the process.
  12. Absolutely essential – check your dictionary. Essential means ‘of absolute necessity’, so ‘absolutely essential’ is like saying ‘it is absolutely of absolute necessity’. Nice.
  13. Totally eradicate – eradicate already encompasses the idea of totality. If it wasn’t total, it wouldn’t be eradication, it would be something like ‘reduced’.
  14. Past history – as opposed to future history?
  15. Totally unique – there aren’t different degrees of uniqueness. It’s either unique or it isn’t. Totally unique adds nothing.
  16. Positive improvement – as opposed to a negative improvement perhaps?
  17. Unexpected surprise – what kind of surprise would it be if you were expecting it?
  18. Foreign imports – if it’s an import, it’s foreign. End of.
  19. Added bonus – a bonus is by definition an extra feature, so ‘added’ is redundant.
  20. Still remains – if something remains, it is still in place, so you don’t need to add the word ‘still’.

This list could go on and on, but it’s nearly time for our mid-morning cuppa so we’ll end it here. What are some of your favourite/most annoying copywriting phrases?